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Title: Paprika
Author: oddmonster
Fandom: The Tick
Prompt: American Maid/Ottoman Empress, "delicious"
Genre, rating: Femmeslash, PG
Author's Note: A sequel to BOOM. American Maid and the Ottoman Empress appear in The Tick episode Evil Sits Down for a Moment. That episode might also explain everything a viewer might need to know about Die Fledermaus. Sewer Urchin appears in this story because he's pretty awesome in his own right and if anyone could talk American Maid down off a ledge, it'd be him.
Summary: After a brief, explosive meeting, American Maid's tried her best to forget about the Ottoman Empress. But a box of mysterious chocolates says the effort's not exactly mutual...

The minute American Maid arrived home she smelled trouble. The hamsa next to her door was tilted slightly to the left, fingers pointing to a spot where the small piece of tape she habitually placed across the doorframe was missing.

May slipped the tiara out of her fanny pack and tried the door, unsurprised when the knob turned easily, letting the door swing open on her darkened apartment.


She could hear the emptiness echoing around her, no need to check. She’d know the sound of it anywhere but--

There. On the carpet where a welcome mat would be, sat a small, square box. Alternating brown stripes wrapped with a pink ribbon. She’d stood staring for a minute, then common sense returned and she checked out the rest of the apartment, just to be sure.

Her dresser was in a different spot, eight or nine inches closer to the bedroom door, and the couch pillows were...rearranged. May frowned. Maybe no one else would’ve noticed, but she sure had. The lemon-colored heart with the lace edging was now face-down, and the quilted square of rose satins was off-kilter, up on one edge. She looked back down at the box on the floor just inside the door.

A neat finger of bourbon later, she removed the ribbon, convinced that whoever took the time to rearrange her pillows wouldn’t have then turned around and left a bomb on the doorstep.

Sitting on the thin carpet, jelly glass at her side, May lifted the lid.

Four small, brown spheres, glossy and sweet-looking, and a glassine bag of bright red-orange powder. A scroll of paper nestled in the center square of the box, tied tight with another pink ribbon. She untied the ribbon and unrolled the scroll.

Kávé Dragee. Konyakos Meggy, she read. Rumos Drazsé. Kávéízû tejcsokoládés desszert.

Desszert? That one she thought she recognized. She lifted one of the spheres out of its cardboard bed and sniffed it, then popped it into her mouth.

A burst of sugared coffee burst on her tongue, then warm, dark chocolate and nuts. Pralines. She moaned in ecstasy, savoring the strong, rich chocolate, not too sweet, the firm crunch of the nut.

Chocolates. Someone had broken into her apartment, moved her dresser, rearranged her couch cushions and left her a box of high-end chocolates. She swallowed, savoring, and took another sip of bourbon to clear her palate. She popped a second one in her mouth and re-read the strange words on the scroll.

The firm flesh of a cherry sat sweet on her tongue, tart still, a wonderful counterpoint to the dark, rich chocolate pooling around it. Chewing, she picked up the bag of powder and stared. Kávé Dragee? Rumos Drazsé?

It was all Greek to May. Gingerly, she licked a fingertip and dipped it in, and brought it to her mouth.


“Paprika,” Sewer Urchin announced, “definitely paprika. Capsicum annum L.”

May glared. The tip of her tongue still stung, a peculiar, tight zing whenever it met the roof of her mouth or the back of her teeth. “‘Annum L’? You’re shitting me.”

Urchin frowned. He did not approve of swearing. He removed his glasses and wiped them on his tunic.

They were standing in the small, dank laboratory the Urchin called home, five hundred feet below the streets of The City, filled with bubbling crucibles and softly blopping flasks connected with spiraled tubes. And as a disturbing counterpoint to the omnipresent electric hum, everything was slightly damp to the touch.

“What kind of crazy chick breaks into a girl’s house and leaves her a big pile of paprika? Come on!” May spread her arms wide. “Even I can do better than that!”

Wringing his hands on a stained cloth, Sewer Urchin sighed. “I’m guessing you know the sender?”

Know was too strong a word. The Ottoman Empress had blown up a department store in the name of fine craftsmanship, felt May up then bounced. Not a single word for nearly a month. And now this. “It’s complicated,” May said weakly.

Sewer Urchin’s head-spikes bristled and it took a minute for May to realize he was laughing. “Definitely,” he said. “Definitely complicated.”

“Look, don’t make fun of me, okay? This whole home-invasion thing has me a little unsettled.”

“I wasn’t making fun. Yeah, dating is definitely complicated.” He turned and headed for the door. “You give a g- uh, girl your heart, hang off her every word, follow her all over The City and she tells you she’s too involved with her hair to be in a relationship right now. Definitely complicated.”

May followed Sewer Urchin out of the lab and down a long, marble-tiled hall. “A relationship with her -- Oh my God.”

Sewer Urchin frowned over his shoulder and led the way into a sumptous, obscenely-appointed library.

“Sorry. For the whole Lord’s name thing. But the only person I can think of who’s that self-involved is...”

Sewer Urchin touched a switch on the wall and tasteful lights in the ceiling did their thing. “Yeah.” He sighed again. “It’s complicated.”

May stared. “But why Die Fledermaus? I mean, have you met him? He’s got the self-awareness of a clog.”

Sewer Urchin looked pained and May hastily attempted to amend her statement. “I mean don’t get me wrong, it’s very nice hair and he’s a very nice clog, but--”

“Yeah. But the heart wants what it wants. Definitely complicates things. I mean, your girlfriend blew up a building.”

“She’s not my girlfriend,” May said quickly. “She’s just some girl...”

“Who blew up a building to get your attention and broke into your apartment to leave you expensive dark chocolate truffles and what appears to be one hundred percent pure fine-grade Hungarian paprika. Definitely complicated.”


“One hundred percent Hungarian--”

“Paprika, yeah, you said.” May headed for the flip-top globe in the corner and helped herself to bourbon. Sewer Urchin waved dismissively when she offered him one, too. “But good point about the building.”

“I’m tempted to tell you it never works out between super-hero and villain, but it doesn’t seem to work out too hot between two super-heroes either.”

“Oh, Urch. You should’ve said something. I could’ve told you...” May stopped at the look on her friend’s face. She took her drink and sat down next to him on the butter-soft leather sofa. “And that wouldn’t’ve made a difference, would it?”

Sewer Urchin shook his head sadly.

May sank back into the welcoming cushions. She sipped her bourbon and felt its welcome, numbing warmth. “Really? Die Fledermaus?”

Sewer Urchin gave her a look.

“Forget I said anything. Look, what should I do....you know, about her?”

“Ottoman Empress?”

“No, the other hot super-villain breaking into my apartment. Yes, Ottoman Empress.” Emma. It was how she’d thought of the woman since that first night.

“Forget about her.”


“Yeah, just kidding. Look, you haven’t been the same since she burned down Grand’s Magasin.”

“Blew up.”

“Whatever. Everyone’s noticed.”

May stiffened.

“Since Grand’s Magasin, you’ve been distracted. You’ve been off your game.”

“‘Off my game’? Says who?”

The two of them shared a significant look. May finished her bourbon and made a mental note to adjust Die Fledermaus’ codpiece with her good pair of throwing pumps the next time they met.

“You’ve been moping.”

“I don’t mope.”

“Of course not. You’ve just been skipping Mighty League meetings and been completely awol from the past two Justice’s Night Out bowling tournaments and have basically been locking yourself in your apartment, mooning over a girl who throws chiffarobes when she gets mildly annoyed. Yeah, definitely. Definitely not moping.”

May contented herself with a glare.

“Think about it, May. You haven’t had a date since, when, whatshername. The girl with the...” Sewer Urchin gestured.

“Oh God,” she said, ignoring his wince. “Mighty Caffrodite. That girl with the espresso machine jet-pack.” She growled in frustration. “So high-strung, you wouldn’t believe it.”

“Uh huh. Then after that, nothing until this furniture-moving babe. But it’s more than that.” He turned toward her on the sofa and made stabbing motions with his finger. “The moping is very telling. Very. Telling. This is the first girl who’s made you look twice since...” Sewer Urchin made an impressively realistic milk-frothing noise.

“Very funny.”

He inclined his head in acknowledgement.

“Okay, maybe you’re right, maybe this girl did get under my skin, okay? But...home invasion, Urch. She broke into my house!”

Sewer Urchin made a non-committal noise.

She looked over at him, sitting with his feet dangling over the edge of the luxury sofa, wearing the omnipresent fishbelly-white costume complete with spiky, eyeballed headpiece, and she saw her friend as perhaps she’d never seen him, needing and vulnerable, consumed with unrequited love for a man who thought the history of hair gel should be taught in school at the third-grade level. “Oh, Urch...”

He nodded miserably. “I’m just saying, I wouldn’t mind if Die Fledermaus broke into my house one bit. Yeah, not one bit.”

May set her glass on the carved side-table and reached over and took Sewer Urchin’s hand. He squeezed hers briefly.

She remembered the way Emma had looked, silhouetted against the billowing, acrid smoke, eyes flashing and passionate as she recounted the ills done against quality home furnishings, justification, she felt, for setting fires and liberating dinette sets and generally running rumpus over The City. She pictured the auburn curl that had sat, fat and lush in the middle of Emma’s forehead. There was something about that curl. Something that made May think that maybe, just maybe, there were worse things in life than being wooed by a supervillain who was easily an eight, if not higher, in terms of both hotness and the amount of damage she was likely to do to one square city block.

Strong, rich chocolate on her tongue, then the unexpected heat, the bite of paprika...

May scooted forward and reached for the remote. A few buttons and a portion of the wall slid back, revealing a flat-panel tv the size of Die Fledermaus’ ego.

Well, May thought, maybe not that big. She felt a pang for Sewer Urchin, then hit a few more buttons, queueing up Iron Man. It was an old favorite, something they watched when each other’s love lives -- May’s, usually -- hit the skids big-time.

The credits rolled and the two of them settled back into the comforting grip of the overstuffed sofa, all thoughts of doomed love affairs forgotten.

Well, almost forgotten.


By the time May got back to her apartment she was tired and cranky. Late-night post-bar traffic had been hell and unlike some superheroes she could mention, she prided herself on taking public transportation, just like a normal denizen of The City.

And she was hungry. Not for the first time, she looked at the empty brown box with regret, the bright pink ribbon coiled lifeless next to it on her kitchen counter. Why hadn’t she saved even one?

God, her mother was right. She really needed to think these things through.

Next to the empty brown box on the counter, the scroll lay innocuous and curled in on itself from both sides. At one rolled edge, a smear of ink. May frowned. Flipping the scroll over, she found the smear of ink resolved into a series of random numbers: 01136464371601.
But there was something about the form of them, the sequence... May’s frown deepened and she ignored the rumbling of her stomach, concentrating, concentrating.



Surely not. Then again...

A brief check on her laptop provided confirmation. This series of numbers was in no way random, and now, with the country code identified, May was entirely sure who would have broken into her apartment, rearranged her furniture and left a box of chocolates on the rug. She picked up the phone and dialed.

Flickering heat, pregnant with destruction...

It sounded so far away, the ringing, and it rang and rang.

Finally far away the phone picked up and the haughty, imperious voice that haunted May’s dreams demanded that she leave a message. She did; it was brief.

“The chocolates were delicious, but if you’re going to make a habit of breaking into my apartment, you should at least let me make you dinner. Call me.”

Phone safely back in the cradle, May grinned, loopy and stupid and utterly convinced that The Ottoman Empress, furniture-controlling half-mad supervillain (supervillainess, May corrected) would be calling very very soon, and shortly after...

Well, that was after.

Now. All May had to do was learn how to cook. She leaned her back against the counter and fingered the bright pink ribbon, twining it round her fingers, enjoying the tautness of the slick pink silk.


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 22nd, 2011 03:22 am (UTC)
Love this! Not only do I need more Tick and femslash in my life, I need more stories where being a hero is secondary to being a person. So get to work, dear;)
Oct. 22nd, 2011 04:07 am (UTC)
Yay! Tickperson! Squee!!! I love The Tick so much and I love all the characters, and I'm so sold on the idea that they embrace superheroedom because they're sort of terrible at interpersonal relations. :D

I love writing this universe, so thank you! thank you for the comment!
Oct. 22nd, 2011 05:06 am (UTC)
I love superheros enough that I can appreciate the slightly less than super aspects of the Tick heroes!
My brother is also a Tickperson (yeah) but he's a truck driver so he's gone a lot (boo). Which means if a box of Christmas decorations fall on your head, nobody shouts 'It's a Yule Tide!' When he's not home, I have to ask for a spoon in a normal voice, not a triumphant battle cry to rouse the forces of good to defeat evil. sigh.

We could all use more Tick in our lives. You're probably right about them chosing to fly in and save the day since they can't handle that day to day stuff of a relationship.

And I forgot to say, after reading you fic, I think DeMouse and Sewer Urchin are my new One True Pair! So angsty and unrequited, De only caring about his hair!
Oct. 24th, 2011 09:56 pm (UTC)
I think it's awesome there's someone (intermittently) in your house to whom you can yell SPOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOON!!!

DeMouse and Sewer Urchin are awesome, and I think I started slashing them about two minutes into the first time I saw them onscreen together. I love this angsty and unrequited Sewer Urchin here, but I also think it'd be hilarious for them to get together and DeMouse be terrified someone will find out. But hey, if anyone can get him to take the mask off and come to bed, it's Sewer Urchin.

The only problem with writing Tick is....now wanting to write more Tick...
Oct. 22nd, 2011 10:05 pm (UTC)
this is super!

Absolutely LOVED it!!
Oct. 23rd, 2011 11:05 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! I'm so glad you took the time to read it! :D
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )


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